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SharePoint On-Premises Lives On

Long live SharePoint Server.

Given Microsoft's relentless focus on Office 365 and the online version of SharePoint in recent years, those vested in the future of the traditional on-premises offering often wondered if the newest server release was set to be the last major upgrade. Those rumors persisted for years. Microsoft last week put that issue to rest, at least for now that SharePoint Server 2016 won't be the last on-premises version.

At the official launch of SharePoint Server 2016, customers learned it won't be the swan song for the on-premises collaboration offering. Not only that, Microsoft revealed plans to offer new capabilities designed first for Office 365 that will come to the server edition. Even more encouraging is SharePoint Server customers won't have to wait the typical three years for a new version. Feature Packs that bring forth many capabilities built for Office 365 SharePoint Online will come next year.

That promise came from Jeff Teper, regarded as the father of SharePoint, who was brought back to the team last year as corporate VP for SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. Teper presided over last week's "Future of SharePoint" event in San Francisco, where observers were expecting to learn that future was entirely in the cloud, albeit with support for hybrid environments championed as the basis of the new SharePoint Server 2016 release.

Make no mistake -- Office 365 is where all of the new collaboration features will first appear moving forward and Microsoft wants customers to move as much of their collaboration on SharePoint Server to the cloud and Office 365. But Microsoft is also well aware that many organizations can't move all of their data to the cloud and it appears that the strategy it is embarking on with Azure Stack (allowing organizations to build private and hybrid clouds in their datacenters) is following the same path with SharePoint.

Teper relished sharing the news that server edition will live on. "We are committed to on-premises deployments and new on-premises innovation is a big deal," Teper said.

Teper noted that there are some things Microsoft can't bring to SharePoint Server such as some of the machine learning capabilities in the Microsoft Graph -- but there are capabilities such as new, more modern user experience, unified access and intelligent discovery of information in SharePoint and OneDrive, an "intelligent" intranet that spans all device types, app models with support for an improved synch architecture and interfaces and the new SharePoint Framework.

The new SharePoint Framework, which is built with integration hooks with the Microsoft Graph and support for open source tooling that deliver client-side JavaScript rendering, will include the Sites and Files APIs. These features will roll out incrementally over the coming months and quarters. Teper emphasized as a milestone the fact that many of these capabilities will show up in a new on-premises Feature Pack which will build on SharePoint Server 2016 after this month's release. "For the first time in history in SharePoint, we are accelerating the pace of on-premises innovation," he said.

SharePoint MVP Ruven Gotz, director of digital workplace and innovation at Avanade, said that his clients will welcome the news of the planned Feature Packs (others in the SharePoint community welcomed the strategy as well). "Microsoft is making sure their clients know they haven't forgotten about on-premises and that it is also a first-class destination for features and updates," Gotz said. "I think we're going to see hybrid for years.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/11/2016 at 11:35 AM


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